As devices replace textbooks, should students be charged fees?
- An ongoing debate in Ohio is weighing whether schools are going too far by charging fees for the use of tech devices required as part of curriculum, under a law that doesn't allow public schools in the state to charge fees for the use of textbooks, eSchool News reports.
- The argument hinges on the notion that the pace of technology has moved beyond the existing law now that devices are replacing textbooks, and state Reps. John Boccieri (D-Poland) and Tim Ginter (R-Salem) have called for officials in at least one district to refund a $70 Chromebook fee to families.
- The two lawmakers and their colleagues have called for clarification from the State Board of Education or the drafting of a replacement law, but Boccieri also told eSchool News that he's sympathetic to districts' budget concerns in the matter, as the most recent state budget left funding flat or lower for 10 of the 18 school districts in the district he represents.
As textbooks go digital and educational equity becomes a greater concern due to widening socioeconomic gaps, this issue is sure to come up more frequently. At the most simple end of the spectrum, states will need to revisit laws like Ohio is doing, updating them for a time when curricular material is accessed via devices rather than paper, while also rethinking educational funding.
But let's not kid ourselves — nothing is ever that simple in an educational landscape where a number of states like Kansas and Washington haven't been able to agree on their funding formula itself in recent years. Facilitating more equitable access to technology for students is likely to require administrators to broker deals with local and national industry before educational funding catches up to the issue, adding to the ever-growing list of concerns school and district leaders must consider to best prepare students for life in the 21st century.
- eSchool News Should student technology be free?
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